Saturday, July 26, 2014

YAck Attack: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight - she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...  (

Just a note on the coming GRACELING YAcks, we deviated from our norm.  BITTERBLUE was the original YAck book for the month but it quickly morphed into a re-read of the series, which we will be YAcking in its entirety.  So GRACELING replaced BITTERBLUE as June's YAck book and then the coming FIRE and BITTERBLUE will be bonus YAcks.  Because love.

Nicole: BITTERBLUE it is! Let's do this thing.

Donna: Good thing I started reading Graceling.

Angie: Now, the question is: reread, or just try and remember what I thought of it....

Nicole: If I'm right, it's good enough to reread.

Donna: I want to start a drinking game wherein you drink every time Katsa's name is said in dialogue in Graceling. The first person to survive alcohol poisoning wins.

Laura: Funny, I wanted to do the same thing with the last book I read, Three Weeks with Lady X. But instead of a name it was anytime anything was said about the hero's COCK. It was horrible. I'd be so dead.

Laura: your step when saying anything that even hints of negativity when it comes to Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue, or indeed, even Cashore's grocery list. I WILL CUT YOU OUT OF THE WILL.


Nicole: I'm the most excited. We should all lie and say we hate it and watch Laura explode.

Laura: Curses. I curse anyone who dislikes the book with a wet, stinky, cat hair ball right smack dab in the middle of their pillow.

Laura: After a long day of work.....when your head is hurting....and it's dark and cool in the bedroom.....and all you want to do is climb into the bed...just for a few minutes.....and then...HAIRBALL. I curse you with that.

Sya: I cannot lie. I love them too much. I highly recommend the audio versions, also - brilliantly narrated, especially Fire.

Laura: Oooooh I want the audiobooks. Want.

Nicole: Let's just read the entire series yes good

Donna: I don't dislike it. But I'm not falling over myself about it at this point. It's okay. Nothing's really grabbing me yet. *shakes cat and aims*


Laura: Some of that may or may not be true.

Angie: I'll talk to you once you've finished FIRE, Donna.

Donna: Laura will never leave me. I know her secrets. I keep them in a box out of her reach. So on the counter.

Laura: Well then I'm safe because the counter is out of your reach too, midget.

Donna: Steve lifts me up to get it.

Angie: It's moments like this when I realize just how much I love us.

Donna: Katsa is incredibly endearing.

Angie: Right?

Donna: Like as I'm reading it I'm like OMG YOU *pinches cheeks*. I LOLed at the whole DON'T LOOK AT HIS HOT WET BOD BLANK PAGES BLANK PAGES moment.


Donna: Part 2 is really making me like the book more.

Sya: Are we reading all three? Jolly good. Also, we need to include this whole discussion in the published YAck.

Nicole: I will, because this is too beautiful to skip.

Donna: Good thing I just reserved the other two from the library.

Chachic: Damn, my copies of all three books are in Manila.

Sya: Having read the first two relatively recently, I am listening to Bitterblue right now this minute on my way to work. The narrator is SO GOOD. Sooooo Gooooood. Also, I am calling RA as Giddon RIGHT NOW.

Heidi: Maybe this is the fire under my ass I needed to read Fire which has been sitting on my shelf for too long.

I always avoided these audio because they're full cast.

Sya: The prologue to Fire is utterly chilling. I literally shivered while reading the final paragraph.

Laura: Read slowly people. You'll get all caught up in the Graceling realm and then all three books will be finished and there won't be another one FOREVER. We should probably do this YAck over the next 2-3 years.

Nicole: We could do a chapter readalongs style for each book? Or divide it by section? We'd get to talk about it longer...

Donna: SPREAD IT OUT. We could do our normal YAcks and then do these in the middle.

Nicole: I'd be happy to catalog them all.

Angie: OH that's a GREAT idea! I've got piles of reading, and really want to reread them all, but the idea of doing it in the next month was stressing me a bit...

Nicole: So we do GRACELING this month, FIRE next month and BITTERBLUE the month after for those who want to participate?

Angie: It can be a summer reading project!

Donna: Do it.

Heidi: I'm in. Perhaps this will pry me out of my complete nose dive into romance.

Angie: I call RA as Brigan in Fire. BRIGAN IN FIRE, I SAY.

Sya: You're right. More broody and suitable. But Giddon must be someone lovely.

Angie: Someone lovely indeed. Tom Hiddleston?

Nicole: Is Brigan / Giddon white? I haven't started my reread of GRACELING yet (and haven't read FIRE, shame on me) and since there are a lot of people of color as protags in her stories, I want to makes sure!

Sya: Pretty sure they both are. Certainly, I think Giddon is fair haired.



Angie: Which is it, Donna?! Bitterblue in GRACELING or all 3 books?!

Maureen: Really? So you're leaving Po AND Brigan for me? K then

Angie: Ahem. For us, you mean. For us, Maureen

Donna: Graceling.

Sya: So Donna has finished Graceling and felt actual feelings. Does this mean we can start the YAck proper or is everyone wishing to re-read it first?

Nicole: I can't reread it until post-BEA madness, but we can start the proper YAck of Graceling now if you can start the thread, Sya.

Chachic: I want to reread it too but not sure when I'll be able to do so. But yeah, go ahead and start the conversation.

Donna: Am I the only one that just read it for the first time?

Sandy: no, I'll be reading it for the first time too.

Laura: I'm on page 90 of my reread where Po just mouthed "Forgive me" because of his exchange with Giddon. And I love him so. Already. All over again.

Laura: I just finished my reread of Graceling. Is this where we're talking about it, or is it in another post? I love Po. I love Po. I love Po. I think I love him most of all. I love brave, stubborn Katsa, running through the snow, carrying Bitterblue over the mountain pass. And I love Katsa who discovers she actually wants love but without the trappings of marriage and children. But I love Po who wants her any way he can have her and truly, truly means it. I love Po who hides who he is so that he doesn't hurt those that he loves. I love Po who sees a world no one else can. And I love Bitterblue who is remarkably practical for a ten year old orphan queen. BUT I LOVE PO. SO MUCH LOVE.

Po has dark hair. Motion for RA to play Po and further motion for RA to play any and all good parts in the remainder of these readings.

I love this book now even more than I did the first go round when I didn't think it was possible to love it more. THIS. THIS RIGHT HERE, is why we read.

Sya: Motion passed. Now he can play ALL THE GOOD PARTS.

Nicole: Mid Graceling reread and oh my god I forgot how beautifully Cashore handles everything. The gender norms and how Katsa sees them and the sex scenes (!!!! they're so beautifully handled) and just everything EVERYTHING IS GOOD excuse me while i go cry because HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO READ OTHER THINGS EVER AGAIN

Angie: My oldest had an astute observation when I commented that I'd forgotten how much I adore Katsa and Po. She said: "They're not in a relationship. They're on a team." So very true.

Nicole: YES EXACTLY and they're friends first and foremost which is SO IMPORTANT i should not be commenting until i can control my emotions

Angie: LOL! No Nicole, emotions are everything. I agree. Cashore depicts their relationship -- a HEALTHY, wonderful, amazing relationship -- so, so well. And when this came out in 2009, amid all the Twilight stuff, it was SO refreshing.

Donna: It's still refreshing, are you kidding me? When it really anchored its claws into my heard is when Katsa realizes what Po's been hiding toward the end of the book. OMG WEEP.

Laura: PO. Just, PO. I mean...PO. PO. REALLY. You understand? You get it, right? PO.


Nicole: I've been reading this and wondering how I forgot how much I loved Po. Seriously. How has he not made my list of favorite male characters?Nicole: LADIES WITH SWORDS MAKE ME HAPPY



Nicole: We could rename the Yackers the Kristin Cashore Fanclub and it would still be accurate, I think.

Angie: I've been quietly pining over those UK editions for yeeeeeaaaarrrssss.

Maureen: PO. Yes. I will have your heterochromatic babies, Po, you charming rogue you. But not, 'cause I'm askeered of Katsa.

Maureen: Slightly seriously - wow, she can really come off as cold and humorless in the beginning. Not a slam on her (woot! I can kill people with my pinky I AM A BARREL OF LAUGHS), just an observation. I'm listening to it and I'm just at the point where Po attended his first Council meeting, and I don't remember if Giddon had a good reasonable reason for not wanting her face hurt, or was just being a jealous buttmunch.

Nicole: GRACELING AU where Giddon's official council title after Katsa leaves is Jealous Buttmunch. Though that could be canon.

Angie: Katsa is very angsty in the beginning of the book, but I think that's partially what makes the end work so very well. Also: LECK. I remember this from the first time around, the building creepy surrounding him, as Po whittles away the layers surrounding his story. There are very few characters in fiction that are as deeply disturbed and wholly evil as Leck. It's wonderful.

Laura: Yes. Leck is scary. He's even scary AFTER. Also, PO!

Angie: Laura, I'm trying to be intelligent here...

Laura: Po!

Laura: I'm just going to shout that randomly, throughout the conversation, because I have no words, ONLY FEELINGS.

Nicole: Just finished my reread and I want to run through my rain-filled streets screaming out all the reasons I love this book. But I think somebody would arrest me.

Angie: Leck still haunts me.

Sya: Who is it that's listening to the audio? I can't see it now in the thread - but doesn't the narrator just GET it? And, yes PO! But don't diss Giddon. I MEAN IT. Katsa is an amazingly written character. The point at which they flee over the mountain pass is totally breathtaking, largely because of both her belief in herself and her belief in Po's perception of her. And Donna, that bit where she realises what has happened to Po made me cry. More than once.

Maureen: I'm listening to the full cast and liking it. Anytime they mention Leck a chill goes down my spine because it's so clear how thoroughly he has everyone snowed.

Angie: What Maureen said. Seriously. Chills.

Donna: I wasn't thrilled with Katsa at the beginning, hence my original apprehension with the book. And then Po makes her become HUMAN with the FEELS and I'm like

Maureen: Just hit the part where Katsa discovers the real nature of Po's Grace. Cogitating on why Katsa is so angry. Thoughts?

Laura: Oh that's an easy one- aside from the intrusion and the fact that he was kinda taking her thoughts without permission and Katsa isn't one to have ANY part of her defenseless....I have NO doubt she was picturing him naked. And THAT'S the real reason.

Laura: She was embarrassed because there stood before her a perfectly naked Richard Armitage Po and her mind was on his naughty bits.

Nicole: That's literally it. She has FEELINGS for him that even she doesn't understand until that point and he KNOWS. Her crush KNOWS and not only that KNOWS EVERYTHING VERY SPECIFICALLY like how she likes his forearms and his eyes. Which is embarrassing for her, especially given that this is her first time with these sorts of emotions. (I think Po also has darker skin? Golden. And thus cannot be Richard. I'll have to go see if I can find a passage that confirms it or if I'm imagining things.)

Laura: Motion was already passed to have RA play all the good parts. Someone read back the minutes. It's on the books now. Richard can have whatever color skin he needs to, such is the power of our king.

Laura: Also, Po!

Maureen: I think that's a big part of it, but nearer to the beginning she encounters another mind reader and her reaction is almost vicious. I'm trying to work out why that Grace specifically is such a hot button for her. Nobody would be comfortable with it but she actively loathes mind readers of any stripe

Donna: Well she is rather guarded and plays her cards closely to her chest. For years she's been a killer and that's it. She hasn't admitted any other human emotions to herself for most of her life until Po comes into it. So I would imagine to have her secrets, secrets that she won't even admit to herself, laid bare for someone to see, would be the ultimate intrusion. Someone that could show Katsa what she truly is would be horrifying indeed. She's been in IT for so long, the king's THING, that to be exposed as human would be quite painful. This isn't someone she'd want others to see so knowing that there are people out there that could just take that information and use it against her would send someone like her, someone unable to process her own emotions, into a rage because that's all she knows.

Maureen: Oo, good points. I think there's also something about her thoughts being her own property. She can't do exactly as she likes but she can think whatever she wants in the privacy of her own head without fear of Randa's reprisal (and Randa has been the wall around her life and her actions for many years, so he's who she would think of first). It's the vulnerability of being laid bare, of course, but it's also the idea of someone else taking possession of her thoughts the way Randa has always has possession over her actions and how others see her.

Laura: And the naughty bits.

Nicole: She also mentions a lot about being in control of her own life - it's why she hates and fears Leck and hated Randa. She's lived her entire life at somebody else's beck and call, completely isolated - all she had were the thoughts in her head.

Chachic: Okay, I have started rereading Graceling. That's the June book, right?

Angie: Just finished. BITTERBLUE. Breaks. My. Heart. I love her.

Heidi: DAMN YOU ALL. DAMN YOU RIGHT TO HELL. I now have less than SIX WEEKS to get everything done for my wedding. A wedding for which I decided that DIY was FUN and YES I will sew the flower girl dress and the ring bearer vest and pillow and pocket squares and handkerchiefs and make my bridesmaids bags and do all the favor bags and tags and make banners and signs and design and make programs and knit myself a lace shawl and my parents and in-laws full-sized blankets to say thank you AND MORE AND YET WHAT DID I BUY TODAY?! Graceling and Bitterblue (already owned Fire).

I wasn't planning on rereading Graceling because INSANITY ABOVE but you all keep saying things like PO and MY HEART and I CAN'T TAKE IT. Even if I don't actually get to them till August THEY ARE NOW MINE.


Maureen: Mua ha ha ha ha!!!!!

Nicole: ... so we broke Donna AND Heidi.

Heidi: Donna having FEELS helped break me.

Laura: Po!

Donna: I am the breaker.

Angie: Heidi, I can't even handle what you are saying. I feel like I need to send you some sort of life support. Or chocolate. Maybe chocolate?

Chachic: Heidi, I agree with Angie. I feel like I should help you out but I don't know how? I'm super lousy sewing and I don't even know how to knit.

Nicole: I'm just disappointed that a milk-and-cookie bar wasn't on the list. I'm useless to you. (Sendin good karma your way, though!)

Heidi: No milk and cookie bar. Am having wedding pie (also making ourselves). Books are helping! May get lost in Cashore... May see if library has audio even though I just bought hard copies so I can task and listen.

Nicole: Heidi, you're insane and I admire you.

Janice: Good gravy, I didn't realize just how DIY you were being Heidi. I can help with the pie tastings. I do not know how to use a sewing machine so I'm useless for anything else.

Chachic: Prince Greening Grandemalion! LOL. I had forgotten Po's full name.

Chachic: I'm about halfway through and really enjoying rereading this. Just as good as I remembered it to be. It's always comforting to read an old favorite.

I agree with Maureen that Katsa thinks of her thoughts as her own property and she loathes mind readers because she feels like they steal something from her that they shouldn't. And yes, she also feels that it's unfair for her to be that exposed to someone else.

Poor Po, so difficult to have a Grace like that and to have to hide it even from his family and friends.

Heidi: I just started the audio this morning. This may be the first Full Cast audio I ever really get into. They usually grate on me and I don't make it very far, but I've forced myself past that initial buck of revulsion and am getting used to it. It's easy when I remember how much I utterly love this book! Hazel's right, it's comforting, like spending time with an old friend. And I can't believe I still haven't read Fire or Bitterblue considering how much I love Graceling!

Also Graceling may be one of the few things that makes a trip to the NY DMV less painful. 'Cause that place is like the antithesis of Disneyland.

Sya: The audio I listened to was read by Emma somebody. She had a lovely voice and made Po sound Welsh. Which suited him surprisingly well.

Laura: I sampled the full cast audio and it sounded awful...the male voice was all computery. But I just listened to the Emma Powell one and she's AMAZING but apparently you can't buy it.

Laura: it's "not available" in my "region"

Heidi: Boo, yeah, must be separate US and UK editions.

Sya: I got the Emma Powell one via Audible UK. She reads all three beautifully. You might be able to download it, er, less legally.

Heidi: Okay so yeah the full cast isn't great. It's working for a reread but I'll be dammed if I read Fire this way the first time.

It is fun to reread this already knowing about Po's grace. It changes all those earlier scenes between them

Maureen: Just got to the part where Katsa's in the mountains, just before they make that awful run through the pass, and she gets attacked by a mountain lion. And her reaction is this hilarious annoyance. "FFS. That stupid lion cut me all up. THIS I need."

Chachic: Maureen, haha I remember that scene! Bitterblue was so shocked to see her after, and she was all "I'm fine, it's mostly the lion's blood all over me."

Maureen: Bitterblue's funny, too. Sometimes she's not childlike at all, but the full-cast audio person who's doing her voice has this delightful Hermione-ish tone whenever she's taking charge. Or being snotty.

Sya: That whole sequence with the cave and then the pass is my favourite. I think it is breath-takingly written and utterly beautiful.

Chachic: I just realized that I wasn't able to comment when I finished rereading this. I stayed up late to finish it even though I already knew what was going to happen. Such a good book. I need more books like this in my life. Looking forward to rereading fire!

Heidi: Wow, it's easy to forget what a creeper Leck is. Fire's gonna be a party of douche chills.

Heidi: I really love that Katsa and Bitterblue end up having to leave Po in the mountains. It's heartwrenching (especially considering later revelations), but also really refreshing. I love that Po and Katsa make one another stronger. It's really because of Po that Katsa's mentally able to do what she does to get Bitterblue to safety, but at the same time it's so nice to have this book where there's this amazing romance but the romance doesn't define it. By leaving Po, Graceling is really and truly Katsa's book.

Also I completely forgot about Po in the end. D:

Anyway, done! I have at least two or three other books I have to read before diving into Fire, but here's hoping it gets read sometime in July.

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